After the birth of her daughter, 23 year-old Alexis never felt more scared and alone. Aaliyah was born premature with multiple complications including Down’s Syndrome, a tethered spinal cord and a heart defect. Alexis knew being a single mother was going to be difficult, but with these newfound obstacles, she had no idea how to provide the extra care her daughter needed.
Alexis came to UCAN through a recommendation from her doctor at Evanston Hospital. She was surprised to discover how quickly Jamie Gallo, UCAN’s Family Based Supervisor in the High Risk Infant Program, acted to educate and inspire her. “With Jamie available to me it feels like everything is falling into place. I don’t have means of transportation so Jamie takes me and my daughter to our appointments,” said Alexis. “She also taught me about how to apply for Social Security and got me involved with Youth Build to get my GED and other certifications.”
UCAN’s High-Risk Infant Program provides preventive and supportive services to over 100 families each year that are coping with the trauma of high-risk pregnancies and premature or multiple births. The program creates a support network for at-risk families by providing transportation, in-home support and referrals to other needed services such as counseling, evaluations and medical specialists. Additionally, the program’s comprehensive services prevent high-risk youth from becoming involved with the child welfare system.
This year, in response to an increased need and a decline in state funding, UCAN’s generous individual donors contributed $6,500 on Giving Tuesday to this important program to benefit mothers like Alexis.
“When Aaliyah is strong enough she will have to undergo heart surgery and maybe other surgeries,” Alexis explained. “I would recommend UCAN because if you need something or need to get somewhere they will find the answer. I would be lost without them.”